Ten Hag believes United can salvage season in Cup final, but quiet on his future

By Reuters
May 25, 2024
Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes and manager Erik ten Hag applaud fans after a match atAmerican Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain on May 19, 2024. — Reuters

MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes his team can salvage what has been a woeful season in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester City, a game steeped in speculation it could be the beleaguered manager’s last with the club.


“It’s all about trophies,” Ten Hag told reporters on Thursday. “We have a huge opportunity to win a trophy. “In the last 10 years there have not been so many trophies at the club but we have the opportunity to win two in two years,” he added, in reference to last season’s League Cup victory.

The Dutchman declined to answer when he was asked if Saturday could be his final game in charge for United. “I have nothing to say, I just focus on the job I have to do and that is win the game on Saturday and then we are in the project and keep going in the project,” he said. “I came here to win trophies. Saturday I have the opportunity to achieve this and we earned this opportunity as a team.

“After every season you review it and see where you are in the project and what things may need to change.” Ten Hag appears to have the support of a sizeable chunk of fans, at least, as the hashtag “TenHagIn” was trending on social media platform X on Thursday.

United have hoisted the FA Cup 12 times, but have just one victory in their last five final appearances, a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in extra time in 2016. They lost to City 2-1 in last year’s final at Wembley. Ten Hag’s side have a tendency to save their best for top opposition, he pointed out, including a thrilling 4-3 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March. “The FA Cup final, it’s a big event and we are there. Even in a season that is not in our way, we are there,” the Dutch manager said.

“We know we have an opportunity. It won’t be easy but we must go for it. We have to believe it. We know often against good opposition we play our best football and that must be the same on Saturday.” United were beaten by City in both their Premier League games this season, a 3-0 loss at Old Trafford and 3-1 defeat at the Etihad.

“I think we were very competitive until a VAR decision at Old Trafford. A tough decision, I thought,” Ten Hag said. “At the Etihad, we were 70 minutes very good in the game, (and) we didn’t have the bench. That’s a big difference. On Saturday we will have a bench. We will have a much stronger side.”

Defender Harry Maguire, who suffered a muscle injury earlier this month, will not feature on Saturday as he “didn’t heal as expected”, Ten Hag said. The manager added that Marcus Rashford is determined to get back to his best form after he struggled this season. Rashford was left out of Gareth Southgate’s provisional England squad announced earlier this week for the upcoming European Championship in Germany.